The Power Worshipers
Notes on an Interview on CSPAN with author Katherine Stewart
Katherine Stewart in a CSPAN interview, points out that Trump wouldn’t be in office without the “Christina nationalists.” There is a myth that these people “held their noses” and voted for Trump in a transactional way, but that is not true. This is, according to Stewart, “a movement that does not believe in liberal democracy.”
“It’s aim is to smash the table, to overthrow the system as we know it and to create a new type of order one in which its leaders along with member of certain approved religious groups… and their political allies will enjoy positions of exceptional privilege in politics, law and society.”
Most people think of the movement as being “bottom up.” It’s not. “Religious nationalism works from the top down.” Stewart, in this book, points out the real leaders and the real followers and the fact that they are going to be around a lot longer than Trump.
“This is,” she says “a political movement not just a cultural movement.” “It’s about power.”
Trump and the Republicans are working to establish a Christo-fascist one party authoritarian state. The corporate media refuses to take this situation seriously, acting as if Trump’s personal disdain of science is just that, some kind of personal peccadillo. It’s not. The Republican party has worked for decades to erode public confidence in science and the scientific method.
Crucial people in the Trump administration and the Republican party think they have a religious mission to subvert democracy in this country. Bill Barr (who numerous pundits on MSNBC assured us was an institutionalist) is just one example. These people detest science because science has rules, can demonstrate facts that contradict religious belief. These are people who do not want there to be any objective reality outside their own authoritarian determination of truth. Science is a threat.
The Republican Party has spent decades fighting against science. The science of climate change is a good example. They must discredit science to discredit what is now agreed-upon scientific fact – the planet is warming, disastrously, and it is the effect of man-made (and therefore correctable) behavior. But, acknowledging the reality of climate change means interfering with profits from fossil fuels. The Republicans would rather savage the planet rather than cost the 1% profits.
As Malcolm Nance pointed out this week in an interview, these people are a lot like terrorist fanatics, they think they are protected by God from the effects of their behavior. These folks think they can pursue profits and destroy the planet and they will not be affected.
As just one illustration of this thinking, last week there was video of people coming out of a religious service where people congregated regardless of the Coronavirus. One woman stopped to talk to the reporter, and said: I’ve been washed by the blood of Jesus. What she is saying is that she won’t be affected by the Coronavirus because God is protecting her.
This is dangerous thinking. Extremely dangerous thinking. And, it prevades an entire political party in this country. These are not just a few isolated people.
Trump’s administration is packing the scientific agencies like the CDC with appointees who have no respect for, and positive suspicion of science. Robert Redfield is one example. Redfield has essentially been given a pass by the corporate media.
The following are excerpts from an article about Redfield that took 5 seconds to find on the internet.
Redfield’s “…nomination was considered controversial, and was opposed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which cited Redfield’s lack of experience administering a public health agency, his history of scientific misconduct, and his religious advocacy in response to a public health crisis. Earlier reporting refers to his advocacy of a religious agenda in response to the AIDS crisis.”
In a statement by the President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Peter Lurie (published (3/21/18), the CSPI deemed the appointment of Redfield “disastrous” for at least three reasons. 1) Redfield had no experience running a public health agency and has no relationship with state and local public health officials. 2) Redfield had been “credibly accused of scientific misconduct for exaggerating the benefits of a putative HIV vaccine.” Redfield was investigated for this by the military. 3) Redfield had supported a variety of policies related to HIV/AIDS that “are anathema to the great majority of public health professionals: mandatory HIV testing, reporting of positive HIV results to public health without the patient’s consent and quarantining of HIV positive individuals in the military.”
Redfield in this public statement was called “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”
Further excerpts from an article in Mother Jones: Choma, Russ (3/7/2020) “Trump’s CDC director has a history of controversial…”
- Redfield “… also has a long history of being a close ally to conservative politicians and their pet theories on HIV and AIDS.”
- He advocated investigating the sexual histories of those who tested HIV positive.
- Redfield advocated similar ideas outside of the military, aligning himself with a conservative Christian group called Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP) which supported similar steps in the general public (mandatory testing and quarantines) to control the spread of the virus. According to Foreign Policy, in the introduction of a book by ASAP’s founder, Redfield rejected the medical norms for handling the epidemic and called for a more faith-based approach:
- “It is time to reject the temptation of denial of the AIDS/HIV crisis; to reject false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles; to reject those who preach prejudice; and to reject those who try to replace God as judge. The time has come for the Christian community—members and leaders alike—to confront the epidemic,” Redfield wrote.
- Redfield named the breakdown of family values and increasing number of single-parent households as key factors responsible for the spread of AIDS.
- “In the 1990s, Redfield endorsed an unproven HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough. It wasn’t, and Redfield was investigated for scientific misconduct for his role in continuing to push the vaccine. (He was later cleared of accusations of misconduct.) He also publicly lobbied for legislation sponsored by a conservative member of Congress that would force medical workers to get tested for HIV and AIDS and lose their licenses to practice if they were infected. More recently, in the early 2000s, Redfield remained adamant that the best way to contain the AIDS epidemic in Africa was to encourage abstinence, monogamy, and the use of condoms only as a last resort.”
- Redfield was not the Trump administration’s first choice for CDC director; she resigned after she was found to have traded tobacco stocks while running the CDC. Despite loud calls from CDC watchdogs like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which accused Redfield of having a bad record “and an extreme religious agenda,” Redfield was appointed in 2018.
- Redfield has enabled Trump’s politicization of the government’s response.
And, Deborah Brix has been a close associate of Redfield’s.
According to information reported by Wikipedia:
“Redfield continued studies of the…vaccine; the results of his 27-author phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Infectious Disease in 2000, with Deborah L. Birx as lead author. Redfield’s multi-site study, a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, laid the groundwork for future vaccine development and provided a better understanding of the biologic basis of HIV infection and its interaction with the host immune system. The work did not, however, result in an effective vaccine.
“The 1993 investigation did say that Redfield had an “inappropriate” close relationship with the non-governmental group “Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy” (ASAP), which promoted the gp160 vaccine. The group was founded by evangelical Christians that worked to contain the HIV/AIDS outbreak by advocating for abstinence before marriage, rather than passing out condoms — a view Redfield says he’s since changed.
Redfield served on the board of ASAP, which gay groups criticized for anti-gay, conservative Christian policies, such as abstinence-only prevention. Redfield also authored the foreword to the book co-written by ASAP leader W. Shepard Smith, “Christians in the Age of AIDS” which discouraged the distribution of sterile needles to drug users as well as condom use calling them “false prophets.” The book described AIDS as “God’s judgment” against homosexuals. At the time of his nomination to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Redfield maintained close ties with anti-gay and anti-HIV activists, although he has publicly supported the use of condoms and denied ever promoting abstinence-only interventions. However, in the 2000s, Redfield was a prominent advocate for the ABCs of AIDS doctrine which promoted abstinence primarily and condoms only a last resort.
These people are dangerous, driven by religious fanaticism, and in charge of government agencies.
As the corporate media becomes more and more useless in covering the Trump/Republican administration and the coronavirus crisis, we must seek alternative sources of news.
Try the “Trump Watch” Podcast.
In the April 16 episode, they do an interview with John Nichols from the Nation Magazine about the attempt by the Republicans to control voting in Wisconsin in order to assure the election of their hand-picked Supreme Court Judge. They failed, but only because people came out with home-made masks and stood in lines for hours to vote against the Republicans.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media had covered this win for regular people in Wisconsin? Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media actually talked about the attempt by Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to thwart democracy and manipulate the voting process?
They won’t do it and we have to go elsewhere for our news. The corporate media has ceased to cover any international news at all. They are obsessed with interviewing everybody in the country about the minutiae of the Coronavirus issue. They are obsessed with covering every minute of Trump’s propaganda sessions every afternoon and then talking endlessly about what he says. They are obsessed with providing us inspirational stories about the “heroes” of the crisis and informing us of how we can entertain ourselves while staying at home as if we were children.
The Trump Watch podcast, starts every episode by saying that they cover what Trump DOES not just what he TWEETS.
The Republicans are using the Coronavirus to install a Christo-fascist one-party authoritarian state. While the press is asking Trump is it is a good idea for Americans to congregate on the mall in Washington, D.C., the Republicans are stealing us blind. After this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start…because of the pandemic, not because they robbed us blind and gave the money to their buddies.
I would love to hear of other podcasts you find useful and any comments you might have.
My partner woke up in the middle of the night last night worrying about the Coronavirus. He wasn’t worried about catching it, me catching it, or buying toilet paper. He was worried about books.
“All the books are going to be online.” He said to me this morning as we were lying in bed, propped up side-by-side, drinking coffee and watching the cats harass squirrels raiding the bird feeders attached to the windows.
“Before long books will all be digital and with one key stroke somebody like Trump can change them, change them just like that.”
“There won’t be any need to burn books anymore.” I said.
“There won’t be any need to burn books.”
It’s not surprising that people like us are worrying about books during this Coronavirus crisis. The Trump administration is quietly reaching out the evil fingers of authoritarianism all over the social order. I can almost feel them burrowing their way underneath the covers of the bed every night.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not seize power. The Hungarian Parliament handed it over to him by passing a new law that gives him broad powers supposedly to deal with the Coronavirus. There is no end date set for these expanded powers and others are so concerned that they are calling for the EU to expel Hungary.
Orban, who has bragged about being the champion of “illiberal democracy” now has the power to jail people who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts which could alarm people. No by-elections can be held as long as the law remains in force. The government has the power to suspend laws.
The new rules can only be lifted with a two-thirds vote of the parliament AND A PRESIDENTIAL SIGNATURE.
Tell me that’s comforting.
Trump says: “What do we have to lose? I feel very good about it.”
This is just one of several statements Trump has made over the past few days, trying to convince the American people that he has some wonder drug that is going to combat the virus.
In one instance, he’s talking about using two drugs together to combat the corona virus, not approved by the FDA, that (when used together) have been linked with sudden death.
In another instance, he touted using two drugs that have been used for decades to treat malaria. There is no scientific testing (as stated by Fauci) that supports their use with the Coronavirus. And, these drugs are also used by people with lupus and chronic arthritis. Because of Trump’s idiotic ranting about these drugs and implications that they are a wonder drug, there are already shortages for people who need these drugs for their own medical problems.
What do we have to lose?
But, when a reporter (Kelly O’Donnell) on Saturday during a PRESS CONFERENCE, pressed Trump and tried to get some answers from him, some facts, besides this “I feel good about it” crap, Trump responded by telling O’Donnell that she was “an adult” and to stop asking questions.
When O’Donnell explained to Trump that it was the job of the media to try to establish if what the Trump administration was telling people was true, she was criticized as being “hostile.”
Well, I want reporters who are “hostile,” who do their jobs and ask the tough questions to prevent unnecessary deaths sparked by a moron who doesn’t know anything about medicine.
After explaining my concerns to one woman who posted on Facebook, she responded: “Why do you care?”
Why do I care? Why do I care?
Well, let’s see, because people could die because the moron in the White House is disseminating misinformation? Is that maybe enough reason to care?
I guess not because according to the thinking of some people the truth isn’t important, reporters are “making themselves the story.” We must listen to and believe every word of the King, bow down, and for God’s sake women can’t be “hostile,” by asking pointed questions.
This kind of thinking is one reason why we are in the situation we are in.
This is a cult and they are evidently willing to follow it to the death. This is dangerous.
And, yes, I care.